Antibody response to polyomavirus primary infection: high seroprevalence of Merkel cell polyomavirus and lymphoid tissue involvement

Carolina Cason, Lorenzo Monasta, Nunzia Zanotta, Giuseppina Campisciano, Iva Maestri, Massimo Tommasino, Michael Pawlita, Sonia Villani, Manola Comar, Serena Delbue

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Human polyomaviruses (HPyVs) asymptomatically infect the human population establishing latency in the host, and their seroprevalence can reach 90% in healthy adults. Few studies have focused on the pediatric population, and there are no reports regarding the seroprevalence of all the newly isolated HPyVs among Italian children. Therefore, we investigated the frequency of serum antibodies against 12 PyVs in 182 immunocompetent children from Northeast Italy, by means of a multiplex antibody detection system. Additionally, secondary lymphoid tissues were collected to analyze the presence of HPyV DNA sequences using a specific real-time PCRs or PCRs. Almost 100% of subjects were seropositive for at least one PyV. Seropositivity ranged from 3% for antibodies against simian virus 40 (SV40) in children from 0 to 3 years, to 91% for antibodies against WU polyomavirus (WUPyV) and HPyV10 in children from 8 to 17 years. The mean number of PyV for which children were seropositive increased with the increasing of age: 4 standard deviations (SD) 1.8 in the 0–3-year group, 5 (SD 1.9) in the 4–7-year group, and 6 (SD 2.2) in the 8–17-year group. JC polyomavirus (JCPyV) DNA was detected in 1% of the adenoids, WUPyV in 12% of the tonsils, and 28% of the adenoids, and Merkel cell polyomavirus (MCPyV) was present in 6 and 2% of the tonsils and adenoids, respectively. Our study gives new insights on the serological evidence of exposure to PyVs during childhood, and on their possible respiratory route of transmission.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)314-322
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of NeuroVirology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1 2018


  • Lymphoid tissues
  • MCPyV
  • Polyomaviruses
  • Seroprevalence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Virology


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